‘Fake’ kidnapping allegation: Trinidadian further remanded as Prosecution not ready

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“It seems to me that he was charged and now you are looking for the evidence!” were the reprimanding words of Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan to the investigating rank in the case where a Trinidadian was charged for faking his own kidnapping.

The statement from the Magistrate came after the Prosecution, led by Arvin Moore, failed to show any substantial progress in the case since it was brought before the courts over two weeks ago.

Trinidadian Sawak Maraj

This was part of Thursday’s session at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts when Sawak Maraj, 33, made his return before the Chief Magistrate. Thursday’s session was scheduled for submission of statements by the Prosecution.

However, when the matter was called before the Chief Magistrate, Prosecutor Moore indicated to the court that he had no statements and was not ready to proceed to trial, as there are “a few more points to clear up”.

According to Moore, the case has to be sent to the DPP for an Early Case Assessment Programme (ECAP) prosecutor to be assigned. This, he said, has to be done before statements can be filed.

The court also heard that the prosecution sought advice of the Police Legal Advisor (PLA) who directed that the parents of the accused be contacted. However, the Police were unable to so do.

Responding to the Prosecutor, defence lawyer Senior Counsel Bernard De Santos bashed the prosecution for impeding the process of a fair and timely trial for the accused, who is not only a foreign national but is also incarcerated.

“They (the parents) are not only here; they’ve been here for two weeks now,” De Santos informed the court.

The lawyer, in a renewed application for bail, informed the court that it is unfair to incarcerate his client in the inhumane conditions of the Lusignan prison. In addition, De Santos said that Maraj does not pose any flight risk, as the Police are in possession of his travel documents and his parents have also entered into a contract to rent accommodation pending the outcome of trial.

Nonetheless, the prosecutor maintained a strong objection to bail being granted on the basis that the lodging of a travel document does not provide assurance that the accused will not flee the jurisdiction.

In strengthening his submissions, the Prosecutor informed the court that the defendant had previously been involved in a case of a similar nature, in which the INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organisation) had become involved.

Maraj was further remanded to prison. The case will continue on November 21, when another bail application will be considered if the Prosecution fails to present the statements.

The Prosecution’s case is that on October 27, 2017, at Madewini Resort, Timehri, East Bank Demerara (EBD), Maraj allegedly gave false information to the Police that he had been kidnapped and US$700,000 was demanded for his release. The Police, upon investigating, reportedly realised that the claim was false.

It is also alleged that on the same day at the same location, Maraj conspired with others to commit a felony, that is to say, he knowingly conspired to obtain US$700,000. Maraj maintains his innocence.

Reports indicate that Maraj arrived in Guyana and was scheduled to check in at the Ramada Hotel at Providence, but never showed. Maraj’s parents back in Trinidad were contacted by an unknown person, who revealed that their son was in unlawful custody in Guyana while demanding a large sum of money for his release. A photograph of the shirtless man with a cutlass to his neck was sent to his parents as evidence.

However, police investigators, acting on intelligence received, swooped down on the Madewini Resort and reportedly found the man vacationing with his alleged accomplices.

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